As CNN trumpets the coming invasion of new search sites, Google continues rolling out gadgets and “features” to present search results in a different way. No company tests data hardcore with as many variables as Google so the Wonder Wheel and resurrected timeline views will undoubtedly be monetized.
Then again, we thought the same about YouTube, and David Silversmith quickly burst the Google business model writing at Internet Evolution. But with the buzz about the public debut of Wolfram|Alpha (please, just Alpha for short) and a host of other search sites already out, looking to Google’s once-sacrosanct results page is instructive.
I took a look today at the history of Preakness Stakes and had a perfectly ordinary Google experience. But when I evoke the Wonder Wheel (which, sadly, is not the same as Coney Island’s), my view of the horse race changes:
The timeline view, one I dislike, is also available, as are narrow searches into forums, video and other areas. But the financial engine driving Google, the famous advertising, is gone. Don’t worry, kids, we know it will come back, but for now take a look at a much more commercial search: auto insurance in Virginia, with and without the magic Wonder Wheel.
But insurance is a pretty lucrative search phrase. Doing without these ads is too expensive beyond sacrificing some for testing. Meanwhile, Alpha and its friends are still a little slow and lacking in depth to unseat the current search giant, but contenders will keep coming. Google and Yahoo, but especially Google, ignores those upstarts at its own peril. Simply ask AltaVista what happened a decade ago when a search site built by a couple of Stanford grad students started generating buzz.